Jeannine Hull Herron ’53
A graduate of 1953, I am most likely the only student who spent 14 years at Anna Head School, knowing well both the Hydes and the Deweys. My mother, “Madame” Hull first taught a pre-school and kindergarten class and she brought me when I was 3 to be part of her class. When I went into first grade, she became the French teacher for the whole Lower School. I then went through grades 1-4 with Mrs. Wallace, 5 and 6 with Mrs. Le Mieux and on up through high school.
My favorite space was “chapel”, a large building more like an auditorium with very high ceiling, a stage, and windows and balconies on each side. Earliest memories include leading the Christmas procession in my little red robe up the main aisle of chapel to the front where we sang carols with parents and other students. Mrs. Upshur led our music classes in the chapel because that’s where the piano was, and on rainy days she would play lumbering or galloping music and we would lumber around the outside aisles like elephants, or gallop like racing horses, or whatever other animal her piano suggested. The chapel held other musical memories as I grew up. Chapel in the morning always included singing a hymn and I know practically every one in that red hymn book, a copy of which is still on my bookshelf. I belonged to the acappella choir, and we would practice early in the morning before school started, so I had to ride my bike from our house on Russell Street in the wee hours. But I loved acappella. Glee Club was in the afternoon, and we produced a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta every year. As the Major General in “Pirates,” I still, at the age of 85, remember every word of “I am the very model of a model Major General.”
The quad was also a favorite space. When we were little we would get cocoa and milk and graham crackers during recess and play games in the quad surrounded by the wisteria. Later I became very interested in sports and played fierce volleyball and basketball in the quad as we practiced for competition with other Bay Area private girls schools. The campus was spacious, and we could roam anywhere inside the shingled walls from the rose garden to the tennis court, to the lawns in front of Channing Hall. Channing Hall was the territory of the “boarders” so we didn’t venture inside except by invitation.
At Mr. Dewey’s urging, I took a year of Latin, which I considered rather useless, but then he required me to take a second year! I only appreciated it later, when I could easily figure out and remember medical terms and anatomical names studying for my PhD at Tulane Medical School. And it came in handy later, along with the rigor of the grammar and sentence diagramming that we did in Fifth and Sixth grade as I, later in my career, developed software with NIH grants to teach early reading and writing skills.
Anna Head School was my whole life outside of home, from age 3 to age 16, when I left for college. I feel like I know every worn step, and every quiet corner. When I visited a few years ago, reconstruction was happening everywhere, and I had hopes that my beautiful old school would survive, even though some features were changing. A familiar redwood on the front lawn was being cut down, and I asked the tree cutter to give me a round from the trunk. My son helped me engrave some words on it to be displayed somewhere at Head-Royce: “Here we played beneath this tree, We are the class of ’53.”
I hope Anna Head, and its historical buildings, can be preserved as a meaningful Berkeley landmark! I don’t know how many girls in all walked down that lovely, curved driveway in their white dresses on graduation day, but I am proud and grateful to be one of them.
Jeannine Hull Herron, Ph.D., is a Research Neuropsychologist and CEO of Talking Fingers in San Rafael, CA.